Press release

Serbia take European boys' crown as six qualify for world champs

It is the first time Serbia have won the Boys' European Championship and they will now travel to Argentina for the FIVB Volleyball Boys’ Youth World Championship 2011 later this year

Ankara, Turkey, April 24, 2011 - For the first time in their history, Serbia’s boys’ team sealed the CEV Youth Volleyball Boys’ European Championship after proving too good for a young and talented French team, clinching a 3-2 (20-25, 25-22, 25-17, 17-25, 15-6) in Ankara, Turkey on Sunday as Russia took bronze with a convincing 3-1 win over Bulgaria (25-19, 18-25, 25-20, 25-21).

The top six teams from the tournament will now travel to Argentina from August 19 to 28 to compete at the FIVB Volleyball Boys’ Youth World Championship 2011. All teams for the competition have now been decided.

In a repeat of 2009’s final in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, which saw France clinch a straight set win, “les bleus” took an early lead in the first set before being reeled back in by the Serbians. But the French powered through as captain Trévor Clevenot carried his side to set point before teammate Soané Falafala closed it out for the defending champions.

The second set was a much closer affair as the two sides traded points up until 20-20. But Serbian superstar Uros Kovacevic concluded a never-ending rally with a magnificent tip in the middle of the French side of the court to give Serbia a two-point lead at 23-21 before Sinisa Zarkovic and Luka Medic helped bring the scores level at 1-1.

Both teams continued to battle fiercely into the third set but Serbia utilized a short moment of disorientation from the French to stretch their two-point lead at the second technical timeout to 21-16. Zarkovic hammered down to give Serbia a first set ball at 24-17, before French Rossard sent the ball out of bounds to offer the young Serbian side a well-deserved 2-1 lead.

But France were far from ready to give up and even though the first part of the fourth set was hotly contested, the French stars rushed into the lead to bring the score even again.

The 2009 champions continued their march in the fifth and deciding set as they went ahead 2-0 before Serbia fought back bravely with setter Aleksa Brdjovic taking two service winners to turn around the scores to 5-2. French coach Jean-Manuel Leprovost sent in Kévin Kaba for Jhon Wendt, but the Serbians kept their pace with a six-point lead in the middle of the fifth set. Unbelievable, the Serbians then went on to register nine unanswered points, whilst the French completely lost concentration. Milan Katic smashed two winners in a row to give Serbia its first match ball. One rally later, Aleksander Blagojevic helped book his side’s place in history with the block that sealed the match.
“This cup is a gift for Serbia. We reached our goal with a great winning spirit,” Serbian coach Milan Djuricic said. “After the first set, we knew we can come back. This final was the hardest match of the tournament.”
“I’m very proud of my team,” French coach Jean-Manuel Leprovost said. “We gave our best until the end of the match. I can’t keep my feelings inside. It was kind of a rollercoaster game today. I hope my players will keep this tournament forever in their heart.”

Russia sealed there place on the podium earlier in the day with victory over Bulgaria. The eventual victors took the first set with little difficulty but Bulgaria fought back with a determined attitude in the second to bring the game even. However the Russians dug deep to pull out two sets in a row, taking advantage of a fragile Bulgaria with some outstanding attacking.

“It’s an outstanding feeling to win the bronze medal at such an important event”, Russian captain Vladimir Manerov said.

“We trained many years to achieve this goal.” Russia’s coach Vladimir Kondra added: “It was very important for us to win today. We played an exceptional pool phase, but did not reach our normal level during yesterday’s semifinal. At least now we have some reward for our strong overall performance.”

“We were very nervous today. As yesterday, we committed too many errors,” Bulgarian captain Stanislav Velichkov expressed.

 â€œWe learned a lot during the tournament, both in technical and tactical matters,” added coach Victor Karagiozov. “I hope my players will keep this important experience in their mind.”

Elsewhere Spain defeated Greece 3-1 (25-22, 25-27, 25-22, 25-20) to finish 5th. Both coaches gave their reserve players some playing time and as a result, it was a seesaw match.

“We’re happy with the fifth rank,” Spain coach Ricardo Maldonado said. “Our main goal here in Turkey was to qualify for the World Championship in August in Argentina. My boys generally played on a high level, gaining each day more experience on the international floor.”

In the duel for the seventh place, Belgium beat Turkey 3-2 (18-25, 25-14, 25-17, 24-26, 15-13). It was a hard-fought duel with Turkey controlling the first set and the last part of the fourth period, whilst Belgium took command of the second and the third set. In the deciding set, host Turkey led 12-9, but it was not enough. The young Belgian talents bounced back powerfully, giving the Turkish spikers a hard time. After 115 minutes of play, Belgium ended it in extremis. Best scorer of the match was Belgian Arens Ruben with 22 kills.

“We experienced some ups and down during this tournament”, said Belgium coach Emile Rousseaux. “We played well versus Spain, Finland and some parts against France, but we couldn’t reach our highest level versus Greece in the deciding match for the 5th rank. However, with some injuries just before the tournament, things were not easy. My boys did their best.”

Final standings

1. Serbia*°
2. France*°
3. Russia*°
4. Bulgaria*°
5. Spain*°
6. Greece*°
7. Belgium°
8. Turkey°
9. Poland
10. Ukraine
11. Germany
12. Finland

* qualified for the FIVB Volleyball Boys' Youth World Championship 2011 in Argentina
° qualified for the European Youth Olympic Festival EYOF 2011 in Turkey

Best Players Awards

MVP: Uros KOVACEVIC (Serbia)
Best Scorer: Uros KOVACEVIC (Serbia)
Best Receiver: Thibault ROSSARD (France)
Best Server: Andrés Jesus VILLENA (Spain)
Best Blocker: Petar NENKOV (Bulgaria)
Best Libero: Quentin RICHARD (France)
Best Setter: Pavel PANKOV (Russia)
Best Spiker: Uros KOVACEVIC (Serbia)

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